Advocate Akhilesh Kumar Sah
ITAT has to reappraise and reappreciate all the factual materials placed before it: Tribunal duty bound for the same, rules Bombay High Court
The issues of fact determined by the Tribunal remain final and the High Court in exercise of its reference jurisdiction should not act as an appellate Court to review such findings of fact arrived at by the Tribunal by a process of reappreciation and reappraisal of the evidence on record.
It was held by Supreme Court in Karnani Properties Ltd vs. CIT [1972 AIR 2315, 1972 SCR (1) 457] that it is for the Tribunal to find facts and it is for the High Court and this Court to lay down the law applicable to the facts found. Neither the High Court nor this Court has jurisdiction, to go behind or to question the statements of facts made by the Tribunal.
Recently, in Thyrocare Technologies Limited, Mumbai vs. ITO (TDS), Mumbai [ITA No. 53 and 54 of 2016 with W.P. No. 730 and 847 of 2016, decided on 11.09.2017], on the facts & circumstances of the case, the learned Judges of the Bombay High Court have held that we are most unhappy with the manner in which the Tribunal has decided these Appeals. We have no alternative but to set aside such order and when the last fact finding authority misdirects itself totally in law. It fails to perform its duty. It has also not rendered a complete decision. Once the Tribunal was obliged in law to examine the matter and reappraise and reappreciate all the factual materials, then it should have performed that duty satisfactorily and in terms of the powers conferred by law.
Once this duty is not performed, we can safely come to the conclusion that the Tribunal’s order is vitiated by not only total nonapplication of mind but also misdirection in law. We accordingly conclude and proceed to set aside the impugned order. We direct the Tribunal to hear the Appeals afresh on merits and in accordance with law after giving complete opportunity to both sides to place their versions and arguments. The Tribunal shall frame proper points for its determination and consideration and render specific findings on each of them. The Tribunal should carry out this exercise uninfluenced by any observations or conclusions in the impugned order which we have quashed and set aside. We clarify that beyond emphasizing what is the real controversy and which question goes to the root of the matter, we have not expressed any opinion on the rival contentions. All of them are open for being raised before the Tribunal.